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INSIGHT

Emotional retention: New strategies to retain top talent

By Brenda Barnes  bio

Great businesses are built with great people. In today’s competitive employment market, it’s hard enough to recruit those great people, but the real challenge is getting them to stay. Traditional retention strategies haven’t worked so it’s time to take a fresh look at how to keep the best people you have.

Benefits vs. retention

We often confuse employee benefit plans with retention strategies. Company-sponsored retirement plans, health benefits, PTO, remote working arrangements are all good strategies for keeping employees happy, but “happy” is a pretty low bar. The best people generally don’t even take positions without these perks already in place.

A new way to look at retention

So we know we want to keep our best employees, but how long do we want to keep them? Until we get that next great project? Until we acquire our top rival? Until we get acquired? Until you’re ready to retire? Succession planning is the ultimate retention strategy and it goes way beyond keeping employees happy.

So what do we do?

Higher pay is great, but you can always be outbid by a competitor. Bonuses are really only useful on a year-to-year basis. Our experience shows that the best retention strategies achieve a significant and personally important goal for the employee in the future. What if you could pay for college for their kids? What if you could pay off their student loans or their mortgage? What if you could give them a large lump sum or an additional stream of income as they step into retirement? All of these things are possible with proper planning.

Implementing a successful retention strategy has to have three components:

  1. It needs to be meaningful and substantial for the employee
  2. The reward needs to be far enough in the future to make it worthwhile for the firm
  3. It needs to be achievable and flexible. Strategies are where you start; adaptability and risk management are what get you there.

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